momlife, parenting, Terrible Twos, The Daddys, The Salties

Salty Tears at Preschool Dropoff

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Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for nearly a year, Cole and Evie have had an emotional goodbye through a chain link fence. It’s like a scene out of some prison movie. They tell each other how much they love each other and are going to miss each other and then I tear Evie away from the gate telling her we’ll see Cole in four hours. Often, I have to carry her writhing body in one arm, while balancing a baby in the other, and haul these girls out to the car. After dealing with this week after week, month after month, Chad and I had to have a serious conversation: Is it time to start Evie in preschool?

We had made bold proclamations and decisions on our plan for Evie’s schooling. I’m a stay at home Mom and she’s just fine here with me. She can wait until she’s 3 like Cole did. We can see if they have a spot open in January and if they don’t she can start the next fall. Two years of preschool will be plenty for her.

But it seemed she was disagreeing with us.

So I asked the Director at Cole’s eternally waitlisted preschool if they happened to have a spot. No rush, anytime really, we’re fine keeping her home as long as we need – oh, what’s that? You already had her on a list because I mentioned it to you once in passing? She can start next month? Yeah, okay, that works too…Suddenly we were launched into preschool prep mode! I bought Evie a lunch bag, did some “Back to School” shopping, grabbed her a water bottle and talked about the impending start of her career as a student. She proudly told everyone, “I go to school with Cole soon!” She was excited. Like really, REALLY, excited. Drop-offs were suddenly much easier, because as they hugged and kissed each other each morning, they’d exchange excited words about how soon Evie would be joining her big brother.

She was excited. I was all the feelings. Normally made of stone, the idea of having two kids in school proved too much for my solid core to handle. I just wasn’t sure I liked this. At all.

Then it was the big day. We got dressed in one of our new outfits. I busted out the chalkboard easel for important stats and pictures and a giant display of “Evie’s first day of preschool!” I took a thousand pictures of the three kids in every possible arrangement – sitting, standing, two sitting – Evie standing prominently, all three sitting together – Cole in the middle, Evie in the middle, Izzie in the middle – you name it, I probably have a picture of it. Evie looked happy and proud – probably a combination of first day excitement and the promise of a lollipop in exchange for endless smiles.

We loaded into the car, drove down to school, hopped out of the car and proudly marched down the hall. Which is about when all hell broke loose. To our complete and utter surprise, our cool, confident, happy-go-lucky, independent daughter freaked the F out. We thought we’d done everything “right” to prepare her! She knows this school, knows the teachers, knows lots of Cole’s friends! Plus the school happens to be on our church’s campus (though not affiliated) so she literally has been in the classrooms since the week she was born! We talked, oh how we talked, about what the first day would entail. And she was sooooo on board. Lest she forgets, this was HER IDEA!

But, as is a woman’s prerogative, she reserves the right to change her mind. And oh did she change it. My husband and I looked back and forth for a minute, telepathically running through our options.

Me: Evie, it’ll be fine. Cole’s right here with you. *Jump in here dude! Tell her it’s fine!!*

Chad: That’s right, Cole’s going to go do circle time, you can sit with him. *She’s screaming! Why is she screaming??*

Me: Honey, honey, honey, calm down, baby. *I don’t KNOW!! We gotta get out of here!*

Chad: *We can’t just LEAVE her like this!*

Me: *Like hell we can’t! She’ll be FINE! Band-Aid! RIP IT!*

Chad: Okay Evie, Mommy and Daddy have to go, you’ll be okay. *You’re a heartless monster*

Me: I’ll be back sooooo soon, you’ll have lots of fun, okay? We love you! *Oh, grow a pair*

Us: Bye sweetie!! We love you!!

I may have been the one to force us to leave, but I thought of my sweet little baby all day, hoping she’d calmed down and found some fun. I picked her up a few short hours later. Before she saw me, I saw her eating and laughing and I knew we had made the right call. She looked up, saw me, ran and jumped in my arms.

When we settled in the car I asked, “What did you do today Evie?” She said, with a big smile on her face, “I did art and crying.” I laughed at her and hugged the heck out of that kid. I said, “Maybe next time we’ll try for just art, huh?” She replied, “Yeah, I liked the art.”

So yes, in the grand tradition of first days of school, there were tears. Lots of tears. Mostly from Evie. But, as terrible as it is to say, the tears were a nice reminder that even though she’s a sassy, independent, stubborn, “I can do it myself” kind of 2 year old, she’s still my two year old baby, that just needs her Mama once in a while.

 

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Married with Children, momlife, parenting, The Daddys, Why We're Salty

Day to Day Operations

I run this house.

This isn’t a bold statement, it’s just really honest. My husband participates, he helps whenever I ask, he fills in where and when necessary. He thinks that he’s super vital in the day to day ops, but the real truth of the matter is that he changes the kitty litter and pays the bills. Of course there’s much more than that as far as his overall role in our lives. We love him dearly, he’s a great Dad, and I don’t say any of this to diminish his status around here. It’s not meant to be as harsh as it comes off.

Basically he’s a moderately hands off CEO that rolls up his sleeves when his employees are really in the weeds.

Until the weekend hits. Or he’s on vacation. Then he’s like the guy that buys the company and starts to make all kinds of changes before he asks any questions. He doesn’t know how things work, but that doesn’t mean he won’t give you all his GREAT ideas of how to make things better.

I didn’t realize Chad was this kind of Dad until recently when a few conversations made me realize he just doesn’t understand how things get done around here. A few weeks ago he suggested that we change breads:

Chad: That bread Joy had the other day was really good! We should start using that!

Me: Yeah, it was. I checked though and it’s like twice as much as the bread we buy….

Chad: Well that’s no big deal. What do we use? Like a loaf every few weeks?

Me: Uh, no bro. We use two loaves. A week. Every week.

Sure, it’s just bread, but did he really not notice that I make at least three people toast every morning? And a sandwich for our son to take to school three days a week? And I can’t blame him for not knowing how often Evie and I eat sandwiches for lunch during the week while he’s off eating Chipotle or something glamorous. But a loaf every three weeks?? At this my radar went up that he was REALLY out of the loop.

Then on the drive home from vacation:

Chad: What should we do for dinner tonight?

Me: I probably have something in the freezer I could throw together.

Chad: Awesome. And like a salad?

Me: Well, I’d have to run to the store real quick, but that’s doable.

Chad: Oh, we don’t already have salad stuff?

Me: I mean, we’ve been out of town for a week. I don’t usually stock the house with fresh produce before we go out of town.

Poor kid was incredibly disappointed. Because he really was thinking there would be fruits and vegetables and a bounty of salad awaiting him when we arrived home. Like, does he not know how grocery stores work? Or the shelf-life of lettuce? I swear it was only a few years ago that he was living on his own, responsible for his own groceries, but apparently that info in his brain also has a short shelf-life!

Then one day I realized I needed to harness this lack of household intelligence…

Chad: *checking spending on Mint* Hey, big trip to Target today, huh?

Me: Dude, we needed a lot of diapers…

Chad: Like $167 worth of diapers?

Me: Well I needed regular diapers for Evie and Izzie, and Pull-Ups for Evie cause she’s going to need a lot when potty training at school and [his eyes start to glaze over] and then I needed swim diapers for the girls, we’ve been swimming SO much that we’re burning through those and…

Chad: Got it. Diapers.

Did I spend $167 on diapers? No, I did not. But he has no clue how much diapers actually cost. Or bread. Or how produce works. Or basically anything about our day to day operations. And if it drives me crazy all the other times, I might as well get to cash in once in a while.

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Mama Mojo, Married with Children, momlife, parenting, The Daddys, The Salty Mamas Bookclub

Book Review: Baby Proofing Your Marriage

Welcome to the first in our ongoing series of Salty Mama Book Reviews! We hope you’ll join us in The Salty Mamas Book Club – read with us, join us in discussions on Facebook, and check out our reviews!

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There are two things you should know before you add “Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less and Communicate Better As Your Family Grows” to your “to-read” list.

The first is that you must either a) read this book in total secret or b) be ready for anyone and everyone to ask if you and your partner are doing okay. I’m a big fan of carrying a book EVERYWHERE. Which means that inevitably I leave books all over the place. Which leads to everything from sad looks from strangers or concerned questions from close friends and family when you read a book that implies that the baby in your belly is going to destroy your marriage. So just be prepared.

The second is something a very good friend gave me a loving heads up about, and I am now paying that forward to you, dear reader.

There is no delicate way to put this, so I’m not going to dance around the issue.

This book is going to tell you to do certain acts. Oral acts. A MAJOR takeaway from this book is that these loving services may very well save your marriage. So be prepared.

That stuff aside, there’s a LOT of awesome information in this book, so even if you think “are you kidding me? I made him dinner and am raising his kids and am up to my elbows in spit up and poop and now I’m supposed to do what???,” just trust me for a solid second and give it a try. The book. And probably that-which-shall-not-be-named, but the book for sure.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, onto the review!

Gut reaction: LOVED IT.

There were some MAJOR takeaways that I implemented darn near immediately. One of the first things I realized was that I’m HARD on my husband. On a daily basis, I don’t think I am. I think he has it easy. Heck, I generously give him TONS of advice on what to do and how to do it! How loving is that?? Unfortunately, I learned recently that he just think this makes me a control freak! And guess what? It makes it not super fun for him to do things with the kids! Fun fact: Men do not like to do things when they are set up for failure. Now, I try to empower him and set him up for success. In some cases have I lowered the bar for him? Sure have! But it gives him a chance to fly over it. To gain confidence. And the positive reinforcement makes him WANT to do more with the kids. Win – freaking – win!!!

The other thing that I now preach to everyone I can find is to GO OUT OF TOWN AND LEAVE THE KIDS WITH YOUR PARTNER. Whenever I first suggest this to someone, I always get a response that’s some version of, “Oh, I can’t do that.” Why? “Well he doesn’t know what she eats.” “My kids are REALLY busy and it’s just a lot to take care of.” “He’s never been alone with both kids for more than a couple hours.” “We have a unique situation because my kids are [fill in the blank].” Well guess what? Lots of people have kids that are really busy. And we ALL have unique situations. But if you don’t give him the chance he will never know what she eats, he’ll never be alone with the kids, and by God he will NEVER understand what you do each and every single day until he gets the opportunity to live your life. Not for a few hours, not for a day, you’ve got to go out of town for a solid two nights to let the reality really sink in.

Lest you think I don’t practice what I preach, after reading this book, I booked a three day cruise with my girlfriends. Yes a cruise. I couldn’t turn around, come home early – shit, I didn’t even have cell phone reception. I left my husband with three kids. Cole was 3 years, 9 months. Evie was 2 years, 3 months. Izzie was 5 months old. And had never taken a bottle, no matter how hard we tried. And yes, I left them all. Here you go, take a minute to be appalled at how heartless I am, I can handle it.

Done? Okay, moving on…

Guess what? He handled his SHIT! He kept the two older kids fed, entertained, alive. He got the baby to take a bottle. He did all the carseat buckles and got clothes on the kids and kept them in clean diapers the whole weekend. Did I think he could? Eh, I was pretty skeptical to be completely honest. Did he think he could? He was a healthy blend of overly confident and naïve enough to have no idea what he was getting himself info. But the end result was that he stepped up, took care of the kids, and best of all, had an opportunity to bond with the kids that was never available to him with me always hanging out in the wings.  And I knew he could do it, which is such an amazing feeling to have.

Now, I know I said I wouldn’t bring up you-know-what (and yes, I’ve equated this act with Voldemort a few times, so sue me) but I feel like I need to clarify something before y’all write me off as someone who turned in their feminist card, put on an apron and bowed down to serve my husband. THAT is not what the book is endorsing. At the end of the day, you need to find what makes your husband feel loved. Feel appreciated. Feel special. That-which-shall-not-be-named is generally a safe catch-all way to show your partner appreciation. But that might not be your Boo’s favorite way to be appreciated. That might not be on your menu. That’s FINE. But find what is, and do that. A lot.

These are just a few of the nuggets of advice that I swear I couldn’t live without. And in case you’re thinking, eh, our kids are older and my partner and I are doing just fine, I’d STILL say to read this book. I finally got around to reading it when we were gearing up for Baby #3. It’s like a textbook in my house. I am forever flipping back through it to find a helpful hint, tip, or piece of advice.

I can honestly say that my marriage truly is better because of this book. And that is worth every single penny.

Grab your copy here! We’d love to hear what you think 🙂

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Next month we’ll be reading/reviewing “It’s Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids.” We hope you’ll get a copy and join The Salty Mamas Bookclub!!

Book Club
Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Tips & Hacks

10 School Readiness Skills (That Have NOTHING to Do with Academics!)

 

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This post includes affiliate links, which means we’ll earn a small commission off of in made by clicking through. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!

The school year is rapidly approaching, and for the very first time, I am preparing my own little girl for going “Back to School.” As a former teacher, there are soooo many things I want to teach her before school starts- and believe it or not, letters and numbers are the least of my concerns! Here’s ten things that you can teach your kids that your Kindergarten/TK/Pre-K teacher will LOVE you for.

1. How to Write Their Name
This is a really, really hard thing to teach whole group. Spend a little time having them trace their name before having them move on to writing it solo. And feel free to leave the paper and pencil approach until later- check out Practical Name Writing in 12 Fun Ways by Hands On As We Grow.

2. Cutting on a Line/Curve
Similar to the skill above, scissor skills are really tricky to teach when you’re no longer one-on-one. Show your kiddo how to hold the scissors, to use them safely, and to move the paper (not the scissors) as they cut. You can draw lines on paper for them to practice with, or buy this colorful activity book that gets progressively harder with each page.

3. Coloring Skills
Now listen, we LOVE a kid who colors outside of the lines. BUT, there are times when coloring inside is important, too. Help your child to learn the difference between coloring for fun and coloring on schoolwork. Help them to decide when to use “realistic colors” versus when they can go rogue. Any coloring book can be used for this, but this fun book really narrows in on these skills.

4. Glue Skills
Let’s save the poor teacher some mess, yeah? Can you imagine cleaning up after thirty kids with glue bottles? Let’s don’t do that to him or her. Work on squeezing the glue bottle just a little (we use the phrase “Dot, dot. Not a lot!”). This exclusive, Salty Mama printable can help your kiddo to practice this skill, along with a few others on the list. Also work on using gluesticks. Need more help with gluesticks? This cute little craft kit  will give your child plenty of practice- and they won’t even know they’re working on school readiness skills!

School Readiness Printable
You can work on several school skills at once with this fun printable craft! Get yours here!

5. Pencil Grip
I don’t want your child’s teacher to have to run around to each student and show them how to hold a pencil. Think of all the time wasted! Have your child practice using a functional grip (on or two fingers on top of the pencil, with the thumb underneath). Is your child struggling? Use shorter pencils or crayons, which eliminates some of the other, less useful grips. Need more tips on how to help with this? Head on over to Living for the Sunshine to read more about ways to practice.

6. Folding a Paper in Half
Okay, this is a weird one, but there are a LOT of school crafts that involve folding a paper in half. Practice folding length-wise and width-wise (like a “hot dog” or a “hamburger,” if you remember from your school days). You can have them practice their scissor skills on their folded paper by tracing a half-heart and letting them cut it out.

7. Workbook Skills
I am no fan of workbooks personally, but there are going to be plenty of them at school. Grab one from the dollar store or the Target Dollar spot, or order a fun one here. Kids can practice valuable school-skills like circling an object, drawing lines from one item to another, and finding the line where they should write their name (or writing on the top right-hand corner if there isn’t one).

8. Putting Things in and Out of Their Backpack
Can you imagine the first-day-chaos if none of the kids could do this? Practice opening and closing backpacks with your kids, and make sure they are able to open any containers/packages that you plan to send to lunch with them. There’s not a ton of time to eat, and you probably don’t want your kid waiting the whole lunch period for it to be their turn for the lunch aide to open their Pirate’s Booty or juice box.

9. Taking Off/Putting On Their Own Sweater (Shoes, Etc.)
Big kid school is not like little-kid-preschool or daycare- there just aren’t enough grown-up hands to assist with these tasks! Help your child to become independent with their own zips/ties/snaps. And avoid sending them to school in shoes with ties until they can retie them on their own!

10. Wiping Their Own Booty (TK and Up, at the Least)
I mean, I’m just saying.  I can almost guarantee that wiping booties was not a part of your child’s teacher’s credential program, and someone’s gotta get it done. It’s gonna have to be your kid, so get to work on this one- stat.

Want to make sure you never miss out on exclusive Salty Mamas content (including more free printables like this one)? Click the link in our sidebar to the right to follow us via email!

Bouncing Babies, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, They Said WHAT?, vacation, Why We're Salty

Panic at Panera

Road trips are always a huge endeavor, especially when you’re traveling with a bunch of little ones. You spend more time prepping for the trip than you’ll probably spend at your final  destination, making sure you have everything you could possibly need for every possible scenario: illness, peed pants, owies of all shapes and sizes, snacks – OH GOD THE SNACKS. Every possible book that will be required to get the kids to sleep at the end of the night and every toy that might be needed to get someone to stop crying/fighting/fussing/etc. I started getting ready on a Friday and a year and a half later we were packed, loaded and on the road.

Later that day, we found ourselves in the middle of what we thought was a seven hour drive – which ended up being over eleven hours – and were all in pretty good spirits. My husband and Dad were in the front row, chatting away, seemingly oblivious to the chaos of the back two rows. The kids were mostly singing songs from the major motion picture Moana and playing games they made up like “Guess the Animal,” where Evie gave charming clues like, “The animal I’m thinking of is a mouse.” It was cute, but freaking A man, was it LOUD.  We had strategically positioned the carseats so that no one could touch each other, so at least there was that. But even cute wears off after a few hours.

Then something happens and cute is a distant memory.

And when you’re trapped in the third row of a Ford Explorer with your very talkative20503897_10214160697637757_1520894625_n three year old sitting right next to you and your very hungry 7 month old screaming as she stares you down from her second row spot, the Panera off the highway might just look a little like heaven.

The second we parked the car I started yelling to the Daddies in the front row, “Please, please get the kids out so I can get out of the car, PLEASE!!” I scrambled over seats and literally fell into the parking lot, the black pavement scalding hot, but I was on LAND. And there was going to be food.

We went in, ordered and that’s when the fun began.

If you know anything about eating with kids, it’s that seat selection can make or break your meal. When in doubt DO NOT SIT NEXT TO THE NICE LOOKING OLD LADIES IN PANERA. This may have been a one off,  but just in case. Heed this warning.

We all sat down and started to eat. The baby – a staunch refuser of all things pureed – was sitting in her high chair enjoying one of a baby’s major food groups: the Mum Mum. Yes, it looks like I’m feeding my baby a bird treat but she loves it, so I’ll keep ripping open package after package as long as she likes. Being a baby though, she drops food. All the time. In quick succession she dropped not one, but TWO of the coveted Mum Mums. I chastised her playfully saying, “Silly baby, you’ve got to stop dropping your food!”

It was at this point that Lil Biddy #1 decided to mumble, “Of course she’s dropping it, it’s WAY too big for a baby….how can she possibly eat it….ugh….grumble grumble.” Uh, excuse me? I shot over a look, equal parts, “I’m sure I just heard you wrong” and “Nosy bitch says what??” Okay,  maybe not quite equal parts.

Resume meal.

At some point, Izzie ran out of Mum Mums and it was time to bust out the canister of Puffs. Both food AND fine motor skill enhancer, Puffs are pretty much the perfect food for a baby on the go. Sure, she can spill them EVERYWHERE, but the cleanup is pretty easy. What could someone not like about PUFFS????

Enter Lil Biddy stage left! This pushed her straight over the edge. “That’s it. I can’t stay here and watch this anymore. Those are too small! That baby is going to choke and die and it’s all that Mother’s fault!!!”

She, no joke, STORMED OUT OF PANERA. Lil Biddy #2 chased behind her crying, “I mean, I think those are actually made for babies….” but it was too late. She was dust.

In the moment, I actually thought it was funny. Me, feeding my baby food, that was made for a baby, was such terrible parenting that it drove two ladies from a restaurant. Are we in the twilight zone? It was honest to God laughable. In fact, my whole table laughed. But the more I thought about it, the more it chapped my ass. Who do these people think they are that it’s okay to just comment on every parent that comes in their wake? Because make no mistake. This was not unique to that day, to that Panera. Chad thought it was funny as well, and commented on how random it was which is when I realized that it doesn’t happen to him. It happens to the Moms. Our jobs are open to feedback and criticism and judgement, from anyone, anywhere.

Whether you’re in the grocery store, or an amusement park, or Panera.

And it’s BS.

So we won’t even get started on what happened at the next rest stop where….but Evie looked like this. So use your imagination…18697898_10213434533244101_1156915492_o

momlife, parenting, The Daddys, They Said WHAT?, Why We're Salty

No, Husband, I Did Not Poop in the Tub

My husband comes out of the bathroom, fresh from a shower, still with dripping wet hair, and looks at me with utter disdain.

“Babe. Did you seriously poop in the shower?”

I mean, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to respond to this, because clearly, I did not. Like, I’m not sure how to even justify this with an answer. We live with a four year old and a one year old. How, of all the Torrezes, is the 31 year old devoted wife and mother nominated as Most Likely to Poop in the Shower?!?
Me: “No! I didn’t poop in the shower!”

Mike: “Well you were the last one in there, and there was a little poop nugget in the drain”

Me: “WHY WOULD I EVER EVEN DO THAT?!?”

Mike: “I don’t know, why do you do anything you do?”
Me: Head explodes.

As EVERYONE ELSE BUT MY HUSBAND has probably already figured out, a few hours earlier, our one year old did, in fact, poop in the tub. Because that’s kind of a thing for Torrez babies, apparently. And I did my best to clean it up, evacuating both kids from the tub, scooping up the poop (well, most of it anyways I guess), and spraying the whole thing down with Lysol. And I did all this without even sending out a Spousal SOS, for which I probably deserve some kind of medal. At the least, gratitude. But certainly not accusations of some form of shit-related vandalism.

And that got me to thinking about some other “reminders” my husband has given me.

Me: Oh shoot, I just threw out some balsamic vinegar this morning and now I need it for this recipe.

Mike: Don’t dig it out of there, it’s too late.

Me: …

Like, obviously, hon. I’m not gonna use trash-vinegar on this salad I was planning to serve to company. CLEARLY.

 

My Husband: Standing Next to My Child, who is sitting precariously in a bike seat attached to a grown-up-sized bike, “You’ve got to watch him when he’s in there, Jaymes. You can’t walk away and just leave him in there.”

WELL YEAH I KNOW, BOO. I didn’t intend to leave my wibbly, wobbly one year old strapped into a fifty-pound piece of metal by himself. Who do you think I am?!?

The baby’s graham cracker falls in the dog’s water bowl.

My Husband: “Don’t give that back to him.”

Good idea, buddy! Thank God you said that, cause I was just about to hand this soggy, dog-water cracker back to our precious fifteen month old. I mean, if it was an apple slice or something I would, but a graham cracker?? Just think of what a mess he would make with it.

On second thought, maybe I get why he thinks I need this kind of advice now. But pooping in the shower?? That just goes too far.

Tub

This post includes affiliate links, which means we’ll earn a small commission off of purchases made by clicking through. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!
Mama Mojo, momlife, parenting

The Shame of Having Your Sh!t Together

At this morning’s playdate, a little girl was on a mission to eat all the snacks. Her mom nervously laughed and was like, “you’d swear I didn’t feed her this morning! I promise, she had a full breakfast- eggs, sausage, hash browns- from scratch mind you- and she ate them all.”
And I swear to God, the entire playdate came to a screeching halt.
“UM, DID YOU JUST SAY YOU MADE FREAKING HASH BROWNS FROM SCRATCH?”
There was a quick moment of silence and then Christine, being Christine, initiated a slow clap while the mama blushed and pretty much immediately started backtracking.
“Well they were actually kind of easy. It wasn’t a big deal. And I don’t do it all the time. I happened to have time this morning.”
And then I’m like, hold on. When did it become embarrassing to have your shit together? Why is this poor lady ashamed of being AWESOME this morning??
I get it. Hot mess mom culture is in. We’ve turned the tides and are owning it. Messy buns? Hells yes. Messy house? Of course! Yoga pants? All day. Every day.
And you know what? That’s fine. Be a hot mess. Everyone is at some point. Lord knows I spend more than my share of time in the Hot Mess Mama Club. This job is hard, and we sure don’t need to be judging each other.
But also, we don’t need to be judging each other.
You shouldn’t have to be embarrassed that you are nailing this mom thing. You can take pride in a job well done without coming across as braggy, and you can tell your friends about what your life is like without people thinking you’re an asshole. Make your kids smoothies, or kale, or hash browns from scratch. Take them to the park, be screen-free, do an arts and crafts project every day. It’s okay to be a hot mess somedays, or all the days, but it’s also okay not to be. And unless you’re being a dick about it, you shouldn’t have to hear that you have too much time or your hands, or that you’re making everyone else look bad, or whatever it is that people might say to ward off their own insecurity. You’re doing fine, mama. More than fine. And frankly, we’re a little jealous.
And as for the rest of us- if another mom mentions that she is nailing this parenting thing, try to rein in your judgement and applaud her. Literally or figuratively. Because maybe tomorrow, you’ll be the badass making smoothies, and you’ll want a slow clap of your own.

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Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, Terrible Twos

When Dance Parties Go Bad

The morning started out in our usual way. Mommy makes coffee for herself, breakfast for all the kids, makes Cole’s lunch while the kids eat, and then once the kids are done/too restless to eat without making a bigger mess than I’m prepared to handle we move to the living room for a dance party led by DJ Alexa.

IMG_20170718_074937287[281]Alexa Dance Party is usually a complete and total highlight of the day. It’s fun Mom shit. My kids think I’m cool and not all rigid and full of rules. I lipsync to Trolls and Moana and put on a performance reminiscent of Britney in her heyday. I’m a pretty big deal for a few minutes each morning. The kids giggle and clap and dance and sing along and we all just have FUN.

Sometimes, when the party is really rockin’ and rollin’ I sneak out to go to the bathroom in peace. Inevitably this is when the party gets REAL real fast.  Usually it’s something I know how to handle: “Evie ate my banana.” “Cole knocked me over because he was dancing too much.” “Evie won’t dance with me.” “Cole is singing too loud.”

Here’s another banana, say you’re sorry, try dancing with Izzie, sing louder too.

I can field those all day long. I was not prepared for this mornings fight. I ran out of the bathroom to INCONSOLABLE SCREAMS from 2/3 of the children. I breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing at least the baby was happy. One point for Mommy. The other two were simultaneously screaming something about Trolls.

Mommy: Kids, kids, kids, what’s the problem?

Evie: Cole wants to listen to Trolls!

Cole: But EVIE wants to listen to Trolls!

Mommy: Okay, I don’t understand, you both want to listen to Trolls?

Evie: YES! But it’s MY TURN to pick!

Mommy: Okay, so pick Trolls.

Evie: But COLE wants to listen to Trolls.

Mommy: Okay, Alexa, play music from Trolls soundrack.

Cole: NOOOOO I want to listen to Trolls!

Evie: NO! It’s MY turn, I want to listen to Trolls!

Mommy: I’m so lost. You both want to listen to Trolls, but you won’t listen to Trolls because the other one ALSO wants to listen to Trolls?

Both kids (wailing): YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS

What. The. Fuck?

I, of course, sent my Salty Mama Jaymi a play by play of this insanity that was my 20182465_10214046646946561_1450931712_o (2)morning to which she calmly and rationally responded: “Kids literally just want to make us crazy.”

And somehow, that made it better. My stubborn side came out, I dug in my heels, and played freaking Trolls. They screamed louder because they HATED that the other one was happy, even when it was really what they wanted. They threw themselves on the ground and then they decided to – yes, I’m going to go there – get back up again.

IMG_20170717_074305750[278]They just couldn’t help themselves. As quickly as it all went to hell, it went back again. In a few minutes, we were back to normal: I was painting my sons nails while breastfeeding Izzie…but that, my friends, is a post for another day.

Probably a day where the kids fight over who gets to tell Alexa they want to listen to Shiny from Moana. Because Lord knows they’ll both want to.

 

Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, momlife, parenting

MicroLuxuries

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Imagine, if you will, a delicious three day cruise with your best girlfriends. You buy some tickets, pack some things, kiss your kids goodbye, and sail off into the wild blue yonder. I’m talking about three days of independence, doing things on your own time, eating meals you don’t have to cook and drinking cocktails that are included in your package, and spending SO.MUCH.TIME. with your best friends. The lap of luxury here, folks, or at least the closest thing to it that an exhausted mommy can get.
And then you go home. And basically immediately, it’s back to wiping booties and buying your daughter clearance-aisle Lunchables for a treat.
So, yeah, it was a harsh awakening.
But once I was back on land and thinking back to the cruise, do you know what I missed the most? Reading a book on the deck. Drinking a hot latte with a few more sugars than I usually allow myself. A ten minute chat with a friend. Going swimming. Eating French toast every single day. And I mean, what the hell, guys. It’s not like my favorite part was shopping for diamonds. These were things that are absolutely attainable within my every day life, I just don’t do them.
So I decided to start doing them. Every day, giving into at least one micro-luxury. I sucked it up and took my kids swimming at the YMCA, then soaked up some sun afterwards while they played. I saved up and bought myself a sweet Ninja coffee bar system (via Ebates, using coupon codes, while earning Kohl’s cash and Yes2YouRewards. Obviously.) and made myself some fancy-ass coffee. I put my kids in the childcare at the gym and then sat on the patio and bullet journaled all by myself. And then a few days later, I called up Christine, made a couple of lattes, and we stuck ALL of our kids in the gym’s childcare, and we sat on the patio together and drank coffee and had a little friend date of our own making. I made myself delicious French toast while the baby was sleeping and Lila was at playgroup, and I just sat there and ate it. I went to cocktails with a friend once the kids were asleep. Like real people do. Things started changing, I started taking advantage of more little snippets of time throughout the day, and it gave me the balls to carve out increasingly larger chunks of time for myself. And little by little, I am starting to remember what life was like before kids, and to take back the parts of that life that I miss the most. Because they’re still out there. I just had to start getting them.
So yes, I was very lucky that I got to go on an amazing vacation with my best gals, and visited the lap of luxury for a couple of days. But I am even more lucky that it reminded me that are a million tiny luxuries within my grasp all the time, and that I just have to make them happen.
A few of my favorite little indulgences…
• Make yourself a fancy coffee. Even if you don’t have the coffee bar, it is totally doable to add some foam or flavored syrup to your daily brew.
• Give yourself a pedicure. I like to add these cheap little stickers and pretend a talented nail artist put them on there in a salon.
• Take a detox spa bath and put on a charcoal mask. The more ridiculous looking, the better.
• Sit on your patio/in your front yard/at a park with a smuggled cocktail and a good book.
• Take advantage of the childcare in a gym, either for working out, or if your gym permits it, for not working out. I mean, my gym calls itself a wellness center, and being kid-free for an hour makes me WELL.
• Make yourself some French toast. Or buy yourself a donut. Whatever floats your boat.
• Take turns hosting wine dates with your friends when the kids are asleep. Put them to bed, give your hubby a kiss, and head out. We take turns in our little circle- if your husband goes out of town, you buy a bottle of wine, make some brownies, and open the place up to your best gals.
• Find some kind of exercise you enjoy. A Zumba class with friends, or a yoga class that makes you relax all the way down to your toes. I am a regular treadmiller, but once every couple of weeks I make a point to go for a run in the evening, just me and my dog, and it feels like a teeny tiny vacation from the monotony of the gym.
• Take a minute to write down the things you love to do and just don’t do. Maybe it’s going to a comedy club, or hitting the beach, or sewing a quilt. And figure out a way to make it happen, soon. Start actively saving up for it, talk to your spouse about how to fit it in, calendar some time to get it done. Even if you can’t do it RIGHT NOW, taking steps to make sure it happens soon can feel pretty damn indulgent.

 

Which do you want to try? And what would you add to the list?

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Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, vacation

Road Tripping

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So I’m not trying to brag or anything, but…well I totally am. I’m shamelessly going to proclaim myself the queen of road trips, because everyone has gifts, and this may well be mine. My family ROCKS at road trips.

No, I’m totally just kidding. I’m currently writing this while draped over my crying one year old, making shushing sounds in his ear. So for sure I don’t have it all figured out.

But I will say that my kids have been road tripping since infancy. We drive two hour stretches very often, like monthly. And we’ve taken many, many 9+ hour trips, from when we had one tiny baby to today. Like, TODAY today.

Anyways, so I’m not an expert, but I am very experienced. Here’s a few tips, so you can gain from my wisdom learn from my mistakes.

Phase One: prep within an inch of your life (your sanity may depend upon it). Bring so many more snacks than you ever dreamed (fruit and cheese for early on, then goldfish and pretzels, and chips and fruit snacks. You’ll want options). Bring drinks. They shouldn’t be alcoholic, though you’ll wish they were. Raid the dollar store, or more than one if you have time. Buy self-contained projects, toys, candy. Buy stickers, crayons, dry erase markers, magnets and a cookie sheet, window clings. Buy everything, because on hour nine you would pay ANYTHING to keep the kids from crying and/or screaming. $1 is the bargain of a lifetime. Also pack quarters and dollar bills, in case you need to bribe them reward their good behavior.

Phase Two: Do nothing. For as long as possible. Look out the windows. Try not to entertain your kids in any way. You might (hopefully) be surprised. Our last road trip, this phase lasted an hour and a half. Valuable time when I wasn’t using up all my pre-prepped stuff.

Phase Three: move on to classic road trip games. 20 questions for the older kids, I Spy for the littles. Take turns counting (you say 1, they say 2, and so on) or saying the alphabet. Play Peekaboo. Sing all the songs.

Phase Four: bust out the most boring activity you brought. Probably a book or coloring. Draw it out.

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Phase Five: time for a more exciting activity, like sticker mosaics, magnetic games, or a sticker book. Or maybe a new toy. Whatever you think will give your kids some hope on a dark, dark day.

Phase Six: start doling out the snacks. Puffs, Little Crunchies, and pouches for your solid-food-eating babies. Pretzels, raisins, and granola bars for the older kids.

Phase Seven: try to cycle back through the other steps. Pray it works. Cry a little when they aren’t looking. Regroup.

Phase Eight: electronics. Time to bring out the apps, the DVD players, and the downloaded shows. Now is not the time for high horses. It’s the time for survival.

Phase Nine: try and cycle through the tips. Again. You’re almost out of tricks, and you’re not. even.close.

lollipops

Tip Ten:  I hope you brought alllll the candy. And did not tell the children about it, or let them see it. This candy was to be secretly reserved for an emergency. Now it’s an emergency. Draw it out. Make them guess what the surprise is before you show them. Make them pick a hand. Spend ten minutes where they keep not guessing the right hand and they giggle (hopefully). When you finally produce the goods,  dole out one piece at a time in exchange for answering trivia questions. Or as prizes for who can keep their eyes closed longest. Or whatever you can think of. This is your last hope, and you’ve got to make it last.

Or rather, I’VE got to make it last. For the next hour  or so. We’re on hour ten of an eleven hour trip, and I’m fresh out of candy… And patience. Wish me luck.

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